Dark Clouds Of Fuel Poverty Hover Over the United Kingdom

Credit: Richard Bell/ Unsplash
  • More than 7 million people will no longer qualify for energy support from next spring in the UK.
  • In his November budget the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, announced that the government’s EPG would rise.
  • The rise would be £3,000 a year for the typical home, and the £400 help paid to all households this winter would not be repeated.

The report from the Social Market Foundation, in conjunction with fellow think tank Public First and Citizens Advice, questioned whether that stance is sustainable, given the millions of people it will leave struggling to pay their bills.

Fuel Poverty 

While Hunt said those on benefits, pensions and in vulnerable groups would continue to be helped after next April, the budget offered no support to those who are on lower incomes who are earning just above the benefits threshold. The authors of the report found that 12 million households face crisis-level energy costs with bills at their current levels. 

Three-quarters of them receive welfare benefits or the state pension. However, that leaves 3 million households containing 7.2 million people who face paying more than 10% of their income on gas and electricity, and thereby living in fuel poverty.

More than 2 million UK households are already in debt on their electricity bills, a number that will be significantly higher come the spring. “Politicians must put in place long-term policies to provide targeted financial support for millions of households…” the report says.

The New Normal

Its authors also argue that using the state pension alongside benefits to decide who gets help means that around one-in-three households in the richest 10% will receive government support.

Amy Norman, SMF senior researcher, said: “High energy prices could be the new normal, but our current energy policies aren’t set up to help people…” 

Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Longer term, we must ensure people can keep their homes warm and their bills down.”

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Source: TheGuardian


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